After a couple of weeks with no real news about the football team, we finally have some things to talk about. Here goes:
- The Crimson Tide returned to practice this Sunday afternoon in the Hank Crisp Indoor Practice Facility. We will have twelve practices in preparation for the bowl game, eight in Tuscaloosa and another four once we arrive in Shreveport. Within that lies the true value of the bowl game. There is nothing special at all about the Independence Bowl, Shreveport, or Colorado, but the twelve practices essentially function as a second Spring practice. In the Spring you only get fifteen practice sessions, and if you can add an additional twelve, it becomes a pretty valuable thing for a team with as many question marks as ourselves.
- The offensive line, which has seen more different starting line-ups in recent weeks than I care to count, will likely be experiencing a return to normalcy in the Independence Bowl. Coach Saban noted that the first team unit in practice consisted of, going left to right, Andre Smith, Justin Britt, Antoine Caldwell, Marlon Davis, and Mike Johnson. If you recall, that is the line-up we used in the first half of the season before the suspensions and injuries hit.
- Despite the return to normalcy for the offensive line for this one game, it is still likely that we will see a lot of shake-up next year. Literally everything has been discussed as a possibility. William Vlachos and Patrick Crump have apparently impressed everyone in practice, and once the redshirt comes off next year they will be factors. Caldwell could play guard or tackle, and it is thought that Johnson will eventually move inside to guard. It has even been mentioned that Andre Smith could possibly move inside to left guard unless he can drop some more weight and become more mobile. Bottom line, don't let the temporary return to normalcy fool you about the potential for long-term changes.
- Antoine Caldwell and Glen Coffee finally spoke about the textbook situation, and in both cases they said that the scandal resulted when they wrongly received textbooks, and instead of giving them back they gave them to friends who were taking the courses. According to them, no money exchanged hands, and they were simply trying to help out friends. Even if that is true, however, it's still a mistake on their part. Yes, most of the NCAA's rules are dumb and rather arbitrary, but nevertheless it is the responsibility of the players in question to follow the rules by the book, regardless of how dumb and arbitrary they may be. Both Caldwell and Coffee noted that they were unaware of the rule in their case.
- Jimmy Johns has been moved to linebacker, as was mentioned earlier on RBR. I'll have a longer piece up on that eventually, but it will be a while before I can get it up.
- Javier Arenas is practicing after suffering a high ankle sprain against Mississippi State, but he is still limited and it will probably be difficult for him to play. I would say that even if he can play, it's unlikely that he will be at 100 per cent. A high ankle sprain my sound simple and innocent, but it is actually a very serious injury that has a long recovery time. Ted Ginn, Jr., for example, was not at full speed until about seven months after suffering a high ankle sprain in the national championship game a year ago. Many often state that they would rather just have a broken leg instead of suffering a high ankle sprain, so it is a serious injury. Arenas will be fine in the future, and will likely be at 100 per cent for Spring practice, but no one should be fooling themselves at the recovery time.
- If Arenas cannot play in the Independence Bowl, I would imagine that Jonathon Lowe will be returning punts. After his horrendous muff in the Iron Bowl, I cannot imagine a scenario in which Matt Caddell returns punts unless he has shown massive progress in practice.
- There is also some potential big recruiting news on tap for tomorrow. Chris Jackson, a four star wide receiver out of Georgia with offers from the likes of Alabama, Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Tennessee, will be announcing his decision between Georgia Tech and Alabama at a 10:00 AM press conference. Originally, Jackson was a firm Georgia Tech commitment to Chan Gailey, but when Gailey was fired and Paul Johnson brought in his triple option offense, things began to change. He took an official visit to Alabama, and was impressed. The added bonus with Jackson is that he will graduate on Friday, and will enroll with his school of choice in January. Aside from the benefit of being able to partake in Spring practice, this will also mean that Jackson will be able to back-count against the 2007 recruiting class. We still have a couple of spots open in the 2007 class (we didn't sign the full allotment of 25), so if we can sign Jackson, that will leave another spot open in the 2008 class. Without going too in-depth here, given the totality of the circumstances, I expect him to commit to Alabama tomorrow, but I may be wrong. Either way, stay tuned, he could be a big addition to the program.